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Diversity and Inclusion Panel Discussion – My Takeaways

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Recently, Agent Academy hosted panel discussions on diversity and inclusion in the workplace and early career journeys. The 2-day discussion event was very educational and gave excellent insights into the difficulties that underrepresented groups encounter at the beginning stages of their professional careers. The panellists shared their stories on overcoming imposter syndrome, navigating bias, and considering career paths in industries that can seem very intimidating to a younger person.

Historically, educational institutions typically only provide career advice based on traditional career paths, which may not be suitable for everyone. Fabian Murray, an apprentice solicitor at DLA Piper, took us on his journey to becoming an apprentice. He was encouraged to apply to universities while in college, but he later decided—with the support of his mother—that he would prefer to go down the route of an apprenticeship. This emphasized the value of seeking guidance outside of your academic institution and considering opportunities that are not typically favoured.

The discussion also stressed how crucial it is to network with people with similar experiences and find mentors and allies who can offer you support and guidance. One of the panellists, Ethan Singh, spoke about how he was able to overcome barriers to entry in his industry by attending career fair events, networking, building relationships, and reaching out to people more advanced in their careers while he was still searching for job opportunities. The topic of mentorship came up a number of times, and one of the panellists, Judy Ihenacho, mentioned how beneficial having a mentor has been for her career.

At the beginning of her career, Judy said that being a black woman in the industry felt like a barrier; for Fabian, it was coming from a low socioeconomic background. Ali Usman and Mia Gill struggled with the arduous application process for their graduate schemes, while Ethan struggled with self-doubt during his job application process. It was comforting to learn that these accomplished people have also struggled with issues that so many young people have experienced. One of the most common struggles among the panellists was imposter syndrome because so many young people face it, especially during their early career journeys. Ethan reassured young people that self-doubt is normal and advised us not to be afraid to ask for help.

Overall, the panel discussion was insightful and inspiring all round. Hearing from young, accomplished individuals who overcame their various obstacles and entered their respective industries, was motivating. I was encouraged to keep working towards establishing a fulfilling career, which I look forward to building with the support of Agent Academy.

Bola Meshioye